It’s easy to always go for the more popular cuts of meat when we’re shopping, like chicken breasts and mince.
But could we be missing out on some totally awesome cuts?
Well yes, apparently, we are. To mark National Butchers' Week, we ask the experts to recommend the cuts of meat they think we should be buying more of…
It might feel a bit weird at first, walking home from the butcher’s with a couple of cheeks in a plastic bag but bear with it. This was one of the cuts Matthew Briddon, head chef at The Moonraker, near Bath recommended we look out for.
Chop them up and cook them slowly in a stew, in beer or red wine or in a tomato sauce. The meat falls apart very easily once cooked for a few hours. Pig cheeks also make a really gorgeous (and currently very trendy) ragu served with pasta, too. Just saying.
Liver has a bit of a bad reputation among many - as being bitter-tasting, tough or tricky to cook. But it’s really nutritious and actually really easy to cook. The trick is not to overdo it.
Danny Perjesi, head chef of The Gallivant in Rye, East Sussex, says that lamb’s liver is a good choice, while Matthew Briddon recommends duck liver, saying that “these are great if you flash fry them.”
Liver is cheap and makes a comforting, quick meal, whether pan-fried in a little alcohol and a swirl of cream or served alongside mash, crispy bacon, onions and gravy.
Beef brisket can be pot roasted or cooked in the slow cooker for really tender, fall-apart meat. Or you can make corned beef with it. Jeff Kipp, owner of Saltwood on the Green in Hythe, Kent has a great recipe where he seasons the brisket with spices such as juniper, bay, allspice and coriander.
“For American style corned beef,” he explains, “you would add another helping of ‘fresh’ pickling spices in similar quantities. For a deeper savoury style, we exclude the second round of pickling spice in favour of fresh aromatics.” The aromatics he’s talking about include garlic, onions and ginger. We’re already hungry.
Maurilio Molteni is head chef at TOZI in London’s Victoria, and he doesn’t like to waste food. “In the Italian culinary tradition,” he says, “it is very common to use cheaper cuts of meat and offal – as many staple Italian dishes have come from peasant food and a belief that no part of the animal should be wasted.”
Maurilio braises ox cheeks slowly, for three hours, with veg, red wine, bay leaves and stock. Mushrooms are added towards the end of cooking. Drooling yet?
He continues. “The meat should fall apart gently under the fork and absorbs all the juices from the mushroomy stock. The natural gelatin in ox cheeks means the liquid you cook it in will thicken to a rich, juicy sauce. This makes a great party dish to impress friends at a fraction of the cost of expensive steak.”
Admittedly hearts are not something you see pre-packed and lined up on most supermarket fridge shelves. But give them a chance. And don’t be squeamish. Heart is full of flavour and very cheap. But how do we cook it?
Rob Andrew, chef at Riverford Organic Farms tells us. “An Ox heart is a wonderful thing,” he says. “Trimmed of any sinew and fat, thinly slice and marinate in a splash of balsamic vinegar for a few hours. Season well and fry or griddle on a high heat for a minute until seared on the outside and pink in the middle.”
Aitch Bone Beef Joint (aka Tag End)
Never heard of this one? We hadn’t, either. Ant Churchward, butcher at The Well Hung Meat Co suggested this as a ‘forgotten’ cut and the team filled us in on what it’s all about.
Apparently, it’s a cut that dates back to Victorian times, or possibly before, and comes from the rump. It’s less fatty than other cuts and should be cooked slowly for the best flavour and texture. A really magnificent Sunday lunch option.
“Less a hidden cut and more a hidden animal,” Rob Andrew from Riverford tells us. He goes on to explain that although we Brits have lost our appetite for goat meat over the last 100 years or so, “it is one of the most commonly eaten meats on the planet.”
What does it taste like? Rob says that people often think it’s tough and chewy and needs covering up with spices. “On the contrary,” he says, “good kid goat meat can be treated in the exact same way as you would spring lamb. Slow cook the shoulders and cook the chops and leg blush in the middle.”
Goat isn’t widely available in supermarkets but ask your butcher for it, or look online. According to Rob, goat is starting to become more popular, but, like mutton, it “should be asked for more often.”
Have you tried any of these cuts of meat? What do you think? Should we be asking for them more often?